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I would love some kind of empirical data for why people leave the church. I was just speaking about this with my dad. He too says that it is because people get offended. I think that's a common notion.

I would imagine people say such things because their experience has yielded such results. Not that they are right about the Church as a whole, but in their own little worlds, such is the case.

"Well if they weren't offended before, I suppose they would be after a pretentious and trivializing remark like that."

Amen. I'm glad there are people like you within the LDS church who see things through a wider lens.

I am an ex-Mormon, now Evangelical Christian. I never felt offended by anyone within the LDS church, and even if I had I certainly wouldn't have considered that a proper reason to leave.

"I would love some kind of empirical data for why people leave the church."

Why do you think the church is so tight-lipped about this? I'm the last guy who would suggest any sort of conspiracy theory (though many evangelicals have, and I think that's deplorable), but why doesn't the church publish the numbers of people who leave the church? Why don't they do polling to determine peoples' reasons? Wouldn't that be a great tool for retention within the church?

"Well if they weren't offended before, I suppose they would be after a pretentious and trivializing remark like that."

So it's okay for you to trivialize the bishop's experience? How can you be so sure that most of the people he's seen leave HAVEN'T done so over some offense?

We're talking about two different sets of people: People who leave the church (what the Bishop's talking about), and people who join an ex-Mormon support group (very definitely a specific subset of the above).

I love how the article tries to play up being shunned or disowned when these people leave the Church, despite the continuing refrain of "they still talk, but not about religion." Quite a spin there.

Oh, and by the way, the article didn't "quote" the bishop as saying that, it paraphrased him. And given the apparent spin and writer's emphasis that I noted above, I think you can back off for castigating the man for words no one claims he said.

I don't think the church is being tight lipped. I suspect it is simply difficult to quantitatively find out why people leave the church. Further self-identification doesn't always reveal the real reason someone leaves. It might be the straw that broke the camels back or the reason that they think of the most.

Consider for example someone who doesn't feel socially a part of church. They cease to enjoy going to church. Then they meet a friend who brings them to an other church. They feel a part at that church. In the course of the friendship the friend shows them some anti-Mormon material about the Book of Abraham. They then are shocked and formally leave the church.

Now in this circumstance, why did they leave the church? Was it because of the anti-Mormon materials or because of the lack of friendship and socialization at church?


I think everyone has their opinion on matters based upon how they judge why people leave. And how they perceive people leaving isn't always what the people leaving say. Now perhaps this is unfortunate. But I think even if sometimes wrong this is a natural thing to do.

The church has done some studies of why members go inactive and disaffiliate.

Ben B. Banks alluded to some studies of less-actives in the October 1999 General Conference.

A study done under the church's research information division: Albrecht, Stan L., Marie Cornwall, and Perry H. Cunningham. "Religious Leave-Taking: Disengagement and Disaffiliation Among Mormons." In Falling from the Faith, ed. David G. Bromley, pp. 62-80. Newbury Park, Calif., 1988.

I was discussing this the other day with someone who though that most people leave because of some huge sin they have. Based on my interactions with people who have left, it's rarely the case.

Nathan, the Bishop's remarks were concerning people who leave the Church, not to people who join support groups. I'm quoting the article, of course, not the Bishop (who I have had no converstions with). The paper did name the Bishop and write (obviously based on a conversation with him) that he said that when members leave the Mormon church, it’s almost always because they’ve been offended by someone. So I'm not sure why you are thinking "no one claims he said" what is attributed to him when that is exactly what the paper claimed he said.

I suspect most religious groups feel similarly about those who exit the congregation or denomination. You just don't say that to reporters, that's all! As Clark points out, people likely have more than one reason they leave and it may be almost impossible, even with a big survey, to nail down causation. So it is better not to speculate in ways that demean those who leave. Other statements attributed to the Bishop (by direct quotation this time) sound better: "We’re going to treat them as nicely as we can. Our job is to love people and be open and caring. Our arms and hearts are still open to them ...."

Ronan, I think that at some point in the process, in some conversation with an LDS person, almost everyone who exits (my neutral term) does get offended. But I think it is fair to distinguish between cases where a specific offensive event (whether objectively offensive or merely perceived to be so) really caused the exit versus cases where other factors were involved and offenses arise simply because exiting the Church is a traumatic event that ruptures friendships and even families. The fact that ex-Prebyterians don't form support groups but ex-Mormons often do deserves some reflection, I think.

I think sin is the biggest reason people leave the church. Their sin(s) and they feel guilty because of it. Or someone else's sin by saying something that offends. Or they sin and someone says something about it and they are offended.

I figure that the brethren have their reasons for saying that converts need a friend, a calling, and nurturing with the word of God. From our viewpoint, that means to me that they probably leave because they don't feel like they have friends, they don't feel useful, and/or, no one has taken the time to encourage them in their reading of the scriptures so that they can strengthen their testimony.

In my late 20's and early 30's most of my friends were either inactive LDS, antagonistic ex-LDS, or non-Mormons. (Mainly due to the way social things are in Utah -- long story) I'd say that among my friends, things are complex. I'd not submit them as "typical" but I think it is informative.

In a large number of cases they were wild as teenagers and then felt like they weren't accepted in their lifestyle. In fact I think it is that lack of acceptance that causes most resentment. But the lifestyle itself evolved due to social networks. i.e. the old story about who your friends are. So I think the situation is actually fairly close to the example I gave earlier. You start to adopt the views of your friends and then find excuses to justify the new divide. You want to be accepted for whatever your place is. When you aren't resentment starts in.

At that point lifestyles are different enough that Mormons can always cry sin. But the actual events are far more complex. I think in all cases it is actually a complex mix of sin, social networks, resentment/offense, and a little doctrine thrown into the mix. But honestly, I've only met a few people who left first from doctrine. And to be honest in those cases I didn't know them well enough to really be able to speak about other causes.

But truth be told I think friendship and sex are, for young singles, the main reasons people leave. For others more established, I can see politics/doctrine as being more of an effect. I just don't know as many people in that situation who've left.

In my own experience, many people who leave the church have passively lost faith in it and are looking for an easy to articulate reason to leave. At this point it becomes easy to find an excuse to be offended and then point to that as the reason for leaving. In one particular city on my mission every single person that we ran into that had left the church or was inactive cited being offended as the reason they left. In this case they had all been offended by the same person, which in a way wasn't surprising. But if you really believe in the gospel then it would seem that nothing anyone could do would offend you into leaving. I am sure that every person who has spent any time in the church (or any other large organization) has a good solid reason to be offended. If being offended is your reason for leaving though, does that say more about the severity of the offense or about your own relationship to the church?

Here is a link to the home page of the church that sponsors the support group. No mention of it at their site. The article was written by a freelance guy who, it appears, interviewed the support group members. I wonder if he's an ex-Mormon who is a member of the support group? The article notes, "Their leaving was theological, not personal, group members said." But that's just human nature -- people almost always justify their actions in terms of principle. There are always personal motivations (of every variety) at work behind the principles.

Though the research isn't formal in any way, and it's particular to Brazil, I did quite a bit of such investigation on my mission.

In my mission, we had to spend a large amount of time on inactive work, so in many areas I went through our long list of unknowns, visited them, and tried to figure out why they were no longer coming. I would say that nearly 90% had been offended by a particular member, usually a leader.

I don't know how much that transfers over to the US though. I always just figured Brazilians were an easily offended people. Maybe it is the same in the US after all.

Blaming people leaving on "sin" is a hoot. Every single person who leaves the church is a sinner. Of course, so is every single person who stays.

As my dear friend Peggy's husband said, "It would be worth it if it were true. And even if it isn't true, it wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep insisting that it is."

That's a good point Ann. Usually by "sin" in this context I think Mormons mean sex, drugs, or crime. The latter is typically rarer. Clearly this doesn't fit everyone. I can think of many people I've known who left the church who don't fit those categories. However I can also honestly say that many I know do fit those categories.

Nice data, Eric. Your Brazil discussion raises interesting points. In some cultures, personal relations may weigh more heavily and "offense" may explain more. In small towns or areas with LDS branches, I'm sure personal relationships and getting offended plays a larger role in exit decisions. So culture and location should be part of the discussion.

I wouldn't disagree with this statement: "Some of those who exit say they have been offended at some point by local leaders or fellow members." I don't think that necessarily explains why those people chose to exit, because there are some who get offended who don't exit, and some who exit who weren't offended. Human behavior is a complex matter. And what people say may or may not be what is really driving their decisions.

"I wonder if Christian ministers say the same thing about Christians who convert to Mormonism?"

Yeah, sometimes. We're getting better at it, but for the longest time if someone left "the Church" (which for evangelicals obviously includes becoming a Mormon) it was assumed that they had some kind of problem.

But there have been some good studies recently both by Christian leaders and non-affiliated sociologists that are changing quite a few misconceptions.

A few more sources I've come across:

Albrecht, Stan L., Bahr, Howard M., "Patterns of religious disaffiliation: A study of lifelong Mormons, Mormon converts, and former Mormons," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 22.4 (1983), pp. 366-379.

Bahr, Howard M., Albrecht, Stan L., "Strangers once more: Patterns of disaffiliation from Mormonism," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 28.2 (1989), pp. 180-200.

A M.S. thesis at BYU:

From Mormon to Evangelical

Great sources, Justin. I scanned through the literature review of the online MA thesis and picked up a few new terms. "Disaffiliation" is the fancy term for what I call "exit." There's a nice discussion of "deconversion" as well, described as the desocialization process needed to faciliate disaffiliation from intensely communal religious movements like Mormonism.

i'm one of those guys who has more or less left the church over historical/doctrinal reasons. if i still believed it were true i'd put up w/ any amount of offensive behaviour by members. i think that some people really do leave because they were offended, but if they did they probably were never 100% into it anyways. but like others have mentioned, reasons for leaving are often complex, and can't be explained by simply stating "they were offended" or "they sinned or wanted to sin" or "they're too liberal."

if you want to get a feeling of what people are like who leave mostly because they just don't believe it anymore spend some time in "the view from the foyer." dave has a link to it in his sidebar under "more mo sites."

The Bishop who said people leave because they were offended may have been speaking from ample personal experience, but I'm not sure he was seeing the real root cause.

I'll offer my own observation from personal experience:

People who claim they left the church because somebody offended them were already looking for an excuse to leave in the first place. The "I'm offended" explanation is mere convenience.

I subscribe to the Gospel principles of personal witness of Christ and the truth of this religion. For me, the only question that matters is: "is it true or not?"

Mean people in my ward, abusive or incompetent bishops, blacks and the priesthood, Joseph Smith going gold digging ...

All these things are really secondary to the primary question of whether this religion is true or not. It just boils down to how strong your testimony is.

Admittedly, this statement is going to drive outsiders nuts since to them it amounts to subordinating any unflattering data on the church to whether I'm having warm fuzzies about the church today. They would also probably claim that it trivializes concerns about real problems in the church.

Guilty as charged I suppose. But that's my take on the scriptures. The real reason for people leaving the church is weak testimony and all other justifications obscure this central point.

Seth Rogers said:

The real reason for people leaving the church is weak testimony and all other justifications obscure this central point.

i mostly agree, although my rationale for coming to the same conclusion is probably a bit different than yours.

While a weak testimony is what enables people to leave, it somewhat begs the issue. After all why do they have a weak testimony? Or, more interestingly, why do people with strong testimonies come to have weak testimonies. Further not all people with weak testimonies leave the church. Why is it that some do?

I admit, my assertion is fairly tautological:

"People who believe the church stay and people who don't, leave."

This seems like a pretty obvious statement. It only gains any usefulness when we consider what the scriptural criteria for gaining a conviction of the Gospel are:

-daily and sincere prayer
-scripture study
-participation in the church community (regular sacrament mtg. attendance)
-Gospel-centered service
-repentance and humility

While not an inclusive list, I think deficiencies in these areas are what truly lead to "apostasy." "My Bishop made me leave the church" is just a lame cop-out.

Seems like as a group we are trying to have it both ways, on the one hand saying that people who leave have weak testimonies or weak faith, but at the same time saying people leave because they are offended, that is they actually have strong testimonies or strong faith but just leave because of hard personal feelings.

There really isn't any reliable objective measure of any of these speculative reasons. The objective fact is simply that people do leave; all the rest is guesswork, and I'm leery of the Mormon habit of assuming facts needed to support the desired, convenient explanation (disaffiliators lack faith or were offended). The closest thing to objective data are probably the surveys and articles Justin cites. Has anyone read any of them?

I started to read the MA thesis but it's a total pain in the neck to read - who decided that individual PDFs for each page was an effective way to put the document on the internet? Yeesh. Acrobat lets you combine multiple documents into a single one.

The MA thesis is a study of people who leave the LDS and join another church. It cited an article (I think one of Justin's references) that says Mormons are less likely to leave to join another church, and more likely to just leave and not join any church.

I know lots of people (LOTS of people) who have left the LDS church, and most of them have not affiliated with another. Of those I know that have, they have gone mainline Protestant or UU, with just one evangelical in the bunch. The vast majority of those I know who have left (numbering in the hundreds, I'd guess) don't affiliate with any religion.

A few left because they are homosexual. One man married and had four children before coming to grips with this. Is this "leaving to sin?" Not in my opinion, but that's because I see sexuality as an inherent trait like eye color.

Almost all of them left because they came to believe that the things they had been taught about the LDS faith were not true. Finding out about Joseph Smith's 34 plural wives, translating the BofM with his head in a hat, Fanny Alger, or, in my case, the Smith Sr. tree of life dream were enough to make them decide that the foundations were quicksand, and that the church was therefore Not True.

I agree that the church wasn't working for many of these people anyway. The dull meetings, constant guilt trips about dwindling growth (like it's OUR fault the product is so lame) and the 19th century model for family life left a lot of people flat. No matter what you did, it wasn't enough. Take away faith in the "trueness" of the church's unique claims, and why stick around? It's only worth it if it's true.

“the 19th century model for family life left a lot of people flat.”

Hear, hear!

I much prefer the model where the parents are divorced. The father is gay and the mother has had children with three different men, none of whom she is now married to. The mother fights a ferocious court battle to keep the children and, being the mother, wins. She then sends the kids off to be reared in day care while she climbs the corporate ladder. The sixteen year old daughter is pregnant and the fourteen year old son is addicted to drugs.

“No matter what you did, it wasn't enough.”

This is simply not true. I understand you’re speaking for others and that you may or may not feel this way yourself. But I think people who play this card are lying to themselves. Considering what the Lord expects of us – consecration, absolute humility, etc. – I think that what the church currently expects of us is very little. The church is aware of millions of new converts and so commandments are very much “for the weakest of saints” right now. Compared to days of old and compared, I believe, to days ahead, church expectations are at an all-time low.

I much prefer the model where the parents are divorced. The father is gay and the mother has had children with three different men...

At least in the 19th century model, these people would have been shot dead on the spot and we wouldn't have the problems that are now posed by those 'different' outsiders.

Eric, the model you describe is a caricature and bears almost no resemblance to the lives of millions upon millions of happy, well-adjusted, functional families who are not and never have been LDS.

Ann,

You can read the thesis as a single document if you scroll down to the bottom of the content menu on the left side. Click on "Printing Version (6 MB)" and then click on the "From Mormon to Evangelical" link which should appear directly underneath it. It should open as a single document.

Ann,
I agree.
Being LDS itself has nothing to do with the success or failure of the family.

Being LDS has nothing to do with it. Living the commandments in ones heart... Well that has a lot to do with it I think. And even Paul said that the gentiles could follow the Law without knowing they were following the Law. But I've definitely seen the changes in peoples families from joining the church. But as Eric points out. Joining the church itself does nothing. (As Jesus said, he could make children of Abraham out of rocks) Rather it was by following principles they previously weren't following that led to the improvement.

But certainly many of those prinicples can (and are) lived by non-Mormons. Just as there are sadly many Mormons who refuse to live by the principles of the gospel.

Being LDS has nothing to do with it. Living the commandments in ones heart... Well that has a lot to do with it I think. And even Paul said that the gentiles could follow the Law without knowing they were following the Law. But I've definitely seen the changes in peoples families from joining the church. But as Eric points out. Joining the church itself does nothing. (As Jesus said, he could make children of Abraham out of rocks) Rather it was by following principles they previously weren't following that led to the improvement.

But certainly many of those prinicples can (and are) lived by non-Mormons. Just as there are sadly many Mormons who refuse to live by the principles of the gospel.

If you truly believe in the religion, neither hell nor high water will keep you out.

Saying you left the church because someone offended you is an utterly irresponsible response to life.

It's also dishonest to tell yourself that you believe in a religion and then claim that you're leaving it for reasons that are utterly peripheral to the actual theology.

Ann,

I think your statement actually says something other than what you meant it to say.

Almost all of them left because they came to believe that the things they had been taught about the LDS faith were not true. Finding out about Joseph Smith's 34 plural wives, translating the BofM with his head in a hat, Fanny Alger, or, in my case, the Smith Sr. tree of life dream were enough to make them decide that the foundations were quicksand, and that the church was therefore Not True.

And yet, there are many Mormons (you might even notice some of them right here in the comments) who know all of these things, yet have no urge to leave, and even believe in the Church. I seems reasonable to posit, then, that the real reason some people stay and some people leave is something OTHER than what you cite.

Nathan makes a good point. Has anyone been explicitly taught "Joseph Smith did not marry 34 wives" or "Joseph Smith did not translate with his head in a hat" ?

Were people explicitly taught contrary to these things, or were they simply filling in the holes in their knowledge (if they were even aware of them) with popular misconceptions?

For my part, I have taught my Book of Mormon classes in Institute and last summer at BYU (an RM class) that JS used a seerstone and the Urim and Thummim, and that he used a hat at times.

Seth, I don't think belief is as black and white as you present it. It seems we believe different things with differing strengths. Further we often find out new things about the things we believe that often lead to conflicts. How we resolve them will in large part depend upon which believe has the greater value or strength for us. Thus someone who thinks polygamy is inherently wrong will have a bigger problem than someone who doesn't care as much. (Although one must ask why polygamy in the 1840's is so much worse than in the Mosaic time where many practiced it.

Seth,

Thanks for restating my post!

:)

Dave,

As another informal (and potentially useless) data point, the scads of offended people that were no longer active in the church that I ran into on my mission were also from Brazil.

What caused me to leave the church was a complex mix of factors. Nearly everyone in this thread has hit at least obliquely on at least some of the factors that were relevant for me.

Seth Rogers' suggestion is the only one that I can with assurance say had nothing to do with my experience. (Sorry to appear to pick on you, Seth, it's not personal.) I was participating very actively in:
"-daily and sincere prayer
-scripture study
-participation in the church community (regular sacrament mtg. attendance)
-Gospel-centered service
-repentance and humility" and other faithful behaviors at levels that would be expected of the most devout LDS member right up until the moment that the thought hit me with full force: "The church is not true." I went from believing very strongly that "the church is true" to believing equally strongly that "the church is not true" almost instantaneously.

When that mental about-face occurred, I ceased some of my faithful behaviors immediately (garment wearing, tithe paying), tapered others off gradually (church attendance, scripture study), and still maintain a few that are not specifically LDS in nature (service to others, humility). But all behavior changes began after the mental shift had taken place.

How and why did that mental about-face occur, if I was doing everything a good LDS person is supposed to do to maintain a strong testimony? I think there were a few keys:

I decided to take issues off the "back burner" of my mind. IOW, I wasn't going to wait until the next life to ask Heavenly Father about issues that bothered me, that I couldn't reconcile. I was going to work through it here and now, with the help of the Spirit. Otherwise, what is personal revelation for? (Even those who don't have access to the Gift of the Holy Ghost will find things out in the next life!)

When was younger and I enjoyed church, I was happy to grasp at any possible logical or spiritual thread that would help me maintain that my decision to have faith was a plausible position. Because I enjoyed the community, all I needed to justify the ongoing decision to remain part of it was plausibility.

But church became less enjoyable as I grew into young adulthood, due to generalized church culture issues as well as having specific experiences with specific individuals who offended me. Certainly these were not reasons to leave, in and of themselves. But they were reasons that I began to want the church to offer me something more than a merely plausible story. I began to want a convincing story. Plausibility was too thin a thread for me to hang my life on, when it became clear that life in the church would mean life in a culture that offends my conscience.

The church and its members can (and have) come up with plausible reasons for its positions on women and the priesthood, gay marriage, and historicity of the BOM (to give a few examples of things I refused to leave on the "back burner" any longer). But it offers no convincing reasons. None that are convincing to me, at least.

That same still small voice that had previously been reconfirming my ongoing decision to stay in the church and be faithful eventually did an about-face and told me the church was not true. That shook my testimony to its core. The way that I had always received personal revelation--the burning in the bosom, the silent yet unmistakable words being given to my mind--that was what told me the church wasn't true. Either the Spirit was now telling me the church was false, or whatever had been telling me the church was true all along wasn't the Spirit. Either way, it meant my testimony was gone and I no longer had any reason to stay.

Ann wrote, Take away faith in the "trueness" of the church's unique claims, and why stick around? It's only worth it if it's true.

I would say this is a true observation. But the fact remains that the Church is true.

Ben S. wrote Has anyone been explicitly taught "Joseph Smith did not marry 34 wives" or "Joseph Smith did not translate with his head in a hat" ?

Not that I know of. But it is possible. You never know what some sunday school teachers are teaching the youth. . . .

But the RLDS church adamantly teaches that JS didn't have multiple wives--that it was an invention of BY. At least that is what I gathered from numerous communications with RLDS before the name and doctrine changes.

That's an interesting story, Alex. One often hears about "conversion stories" in the Church. It would appear that there are a parallel set of "disaffiliation narratives" for those who exit. Except perhaps for Brazilians, who seem to have their own approach . . .

My story is similar to Alex's. I was a RS president and former temple worker who left for intellectual reasons. I did not "sin" (sex, drugs, R-rated movies) and was not looking for an excuse to do so. In fact, it's highly offensive to honest former Mormons who leave to suggest that they're just to lily-livered to hack it. So many Mormons STAY in the Church even though they sin egregiously, lie to attend the temple, etc. It's insulting to imply that former LDS or non-LDS people are just unprincipled hedonists who can't wait to sin, so they leave.

As Ann and Alex have mentioned, I think it all comes down to a testimony.

People leave because they no longer have or realize they never had a testimony. Many people have secondary issues, such as a desire to not obey commandments, or feelings of offense towards others. But people deal with and overcome these issues when they have a testimony. They leave when they don’t.

With all due respect to the many faithful South American members, I think many new members still lack strong testimonies. They are a social people who participate in the church for largely social reasons. When those break down, so do reasons for staying. Those who have a conviction of the truth stay and just gossip about each other.

In any case, it always comes down to our conviction of whether the church is true. Maybe we should spend more time, during the first sacrament meeting of each month, bearing actual testimony instead of giving the ward a family update.

As Eric says, it comes down to testimony. But the question remains. For instance in Alex's case, why did he cease to believe? That he did seems clear. That it wasn't related to activities Mormons consider sin I'll take him at his word for. (I've known people with similar experiences, even if they don't represent the majority of people I've known who've left the church)

I think clearly many people don't develop strong testimonies. But I know people with strong testimonies who've lost them. I've then known people with weak testimonies who still believe, but are engaged in many activities against the commandments. I can think of one former best friend who was an Elder's Quorum president, an AP on his mission, who is now a heroin junkie. But he still on some level believes. (And I keep hoping that belief will act upon him to overcome his destructive behaviors)

So it certainly is a complex set of situations. Yet clearly many of us believing Mormons here know all the "dirty history" and the sorts of things people say caused them to leave for intellectual reasons. Yet it hasn't had that effect on us. Why? If we say we're wishfully believing despite evidence or that we're just being intellectually dishonest or even the favorite term of some, in cognitive dissonance, that begs the question of why. Further I tend to find those assertions as distasteful as those who left for intellectual reasons undoubtedly find claims of sin or offense.

The fact is that I am quite certain I have no cognitive dissonance. I have a testimony. There are things I don't understand but I'm willing to let them slide because of what I feel are the strong experiences that logically make doing otherwise illogical.

clark, when you say that you don't think you suffer from cognitive dissonance what exactly are you saying? is there nothing that doesn't make sense to you regarding mormonism, or is it just that your spiritual experiences trump any doubts or concerns you might have?

is there anything that you could learn about the church that would lead you to disbelief?

as for me i really don't care if people think that i stopped believing due to sin or offense. i sinned when i was a believer, and i've continued to sin (at least in a mormon sense) since i've stopped believing. unlike people like alex, i usually found reading the scriptures, going to church and watching general conference boring. i fell asleep in the temple and thought it was weird. i watched rated r movies and enjoyed loud laughter and light mindedness. i wished that they would repeal the word of wisdom because i liked beer. but nonetheless i believed in and tried to conform to mormonism.

so i'm sure that members can look at me and say "of course he lost his testimony, he didn't do the necessary things to have the holy ghost testify of the truthfulness of it to him."

i guess my point is that the behaviour of former believers is irrelevant. either mormonism is god's true religion or it's made up. it doesn't matter what i or alex did or do, either JS saw god and jesus or he didn't.

that's why it can be so frustrating to former believers when members say things like "they don't believe because they were sinned or were offended." it feels like they are using our using our disbelief as a way to build their faith. it completely leaves out the possibility that the former believer took a long hard look at the evidence, and saw the balance tipping in the direction of "not true."

i think a lot of members are afraid to admit the possibility that it really might be made up. i know that for me the moment i opened up myself to that possibility it all came crashing down like a house of cards.

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